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Author Topic: Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS)

Posts: 1007
Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS)
on: May 12, 2016, 08:10

We have in our society an assumption that religion is for the most part benign or good for you. Therapists, like others, expect that if you stop believing, you just quit going to church, putting it in the same category as not believing in Santa Claus. Some people also consider religious beliefs childish, so you just grow out of them, simple as that. Therapists often don’t understand fundamentalism, and they even recommend spiritual practices as part of therapy. In general, people who have not survived an authoritarian fundamentalist indoctrination do not realize what a complete mind-rape it really is.

In the United States, we also treasure our bill of rights, our freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion. This makes it extremely difficult to address a debilitating disorder like RTS without threatening the majority of Americans. Raising questions about toxic beliefs and abusive practices in religion seems to be violating a taboo. No one wants to be pointing fingers for fear of tampering with our precious freedoms. For therapists who don’t get it, parents who merely force church attendance aren’t exactly axe-murderers.

But this is the problem. Sanitizing religion makes it all the more insidious when it is toxic. For example, small children are biologically dependent on their adult caretakers; built into their survival mechanisms is a need to trust authority just to stay alive. Religious teachings take hold easily in their underdeveloped brains while the adults conveniently keep control. This continues generation after generation, as the religious meme complex reproduces itself, and masses of believers learn to value self-loathing and fear apocalypse.


The following comments support the theories of trauma involving shattered assumptions and betrayal.

As a child I had an awful fear of hell, and I used to fall asleep crying cause I thought I wasn't saved. Irrational fear leads to irrational decisions. Now with my career in the tank, having lost contact with friends and family over my leaving the church, I am trying to put my life back together.

So now at the age of 43, I feel that my youth was wasted. I think about all the fun I lost out on, all the women I rejected, and the education I could have had. I think about all the worry, guilt and fear I've had to endure for 31 years.

I've been feeling a mixture of anger, sadness, and desperation regarding my former ‘life of faith’... I spent about 20 adult years as a ‘serious Christian’… trying to live out ‘radical Biblical obedience to God’… The fact is I could NEVER totally please God. ‘He’ made impossible demands of me and it was a fantasy to think that he provided the actual resources necessary to fulfill them.

I take it RTS is not in the DMS yet.

I Googled Religious Trauma Syndrome (RTS) and found a number of articles.

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